The Supreme Court on Thursday said there was a phenomenal rise in crimes against women and it could be curbed only when the authorities were sensitised to women’s problems.

The court strongly disapproved of a trial court order, which held that wife-beating was a normal facet of married life and termed the judgment “perverse.”

“They show a mindset which needs to change. There is a phenomenal rise in crimes against women and protection granted to women by the Constitution and other laws can be meaningful only if those who are entrusted with the job of doing justice are sensitised to women’s problems,” a Bench headed by Justice Aftab Alam said.

Wary of passing comments

“We are wary of passing comments against the subordinate courts because such comments tend to demoralise them. But, in this case, we will be failing in our duty if we ignore the insensitivity shown by learned sessions judge to a serious crime committed against a hapless woman,” the Bench said.

The apex court passed the order while dismissing an appeal by a man against the Karnataka High Court verdict, which convicted him for abetting the suicide of his wife and sentenced him to five years in jail, setting aside his acquittal by the sessions court.

While acquitting the man in a dowry death case, the trial court observed that “wife-beating is normal facet of married life.”

The apex court set aside the trial court order and upheld the High Court verdict.

Not the right approach

“The tenor of the [trial court’s] judgment suggests that wife-beating is a normal facet of married life. Does that mean giving one or two slaps to a wife by a husband just does not matter? We do not think that that can be a right approach. It is one thing to say that every wear and tear of married life need not lead to suicide and it is another thing to put it so crudely and suggest that one or two assaults on a woman is an accepted social norm,” the Bench said.

Judges have to be sensitive to women’s problems. Assault on a woman offended her dignity. What effect it would have on her depended on facts and circumstances of each case. There cannot be any generalisation on this issue.

“Our observation, however, must not be understood to mean that in all cases of assault, suicide must follow. Our objection is to the tenor of learned sessions judge’s observations. We do not suggest that where there is no evidence, the court should go out of its way, ferret out evidence and convict the accused in such cases,” the Bench said.


Removing cobwebs from the courtroom March 13, 2013

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